"There weren't always dragons in the valley" contest
There weren’t always dragons in the Valley. In fact, there was a time not long ago that the word dragon was used to reference reptile-like, fire breathing serpents with enormous wings that existed only in Folklore. A mythological creature that’s fate would be met by a brave knight that arrives at the reptiles guarded castle only to slay the beast and save the princess within.
At least that is what I’ve been told. In my lifetime DRAGON has only been an acronym, used to describe a group of people, outsiders, for lack of a better word. Some decades ago, the government decided to rid society of any potential weak links, population control of sorts. When the initial plan of euthanizing the poor weak links proved to be too harsh a punishment in the eyes of society, government officials did the next best thing, banishment for the unlucky individuals. Those considered to be a stain on the genetic gene pool were sent to The Valley, never to live amongst those of us considered to be “normal” again.
DRAGON now globally stands for, Deficit, Rarity, Abnormality, Genetic, Ostracization, Necessary. In short, the person in question, the Dragon if you will, has some sort of abnormality, and is no longer welcome to live amongst the Alphas again. And living amongst the Alphas is, of course, what every single one of us desires.
I gingerly turned the page of the magazine in front of me, pretending to be interested in the context, but I was thinking only of the appointment I was waiting for. Another DRAGON checkup, courtesy of my employer, thanks to my negligence at hiding something I had become quite successful at keeping a secret. However, lately I had been slipping up too much, not being careful enough. Not for lack of importance in keeping this secret, but complacency, I had gotten too comfortable. Which is never a good thing here in Creekside.
I flipped the page of my magazine again, trying to keep up appearances in case the receptionists were paying attention to me at all. I doubted they were, but again complacency had gotten me here in the first place, and I had no more room for errors. I had to appear completely normal if I did not want my entire existence to shatter into a million pieces, never to be put back together fully.
“Michaelson.” I heard the name shouted across the lobby but with my thoughts so distracted I did not take notice to the fact that the medical assistant was calling my name to fetch me for my appointment. It was not until she called out my full name that my brain registered; she was looking for me.
“Sarah Michaelson!” The medical assistant announced, this time much louder with a tinge of annoyance when enunciating the Michaelson.
I quickly leapt up from the chair I had sank into as much as I could without drawing attention to myself and dropped the magazine on the stack beside me. I waved a thankful gesture to the girls at the front desk and continued to the exam room with the medical assistant.
“Hello Sarah. I’m Tilly, Dr.Geoffries assistant, Ill be taking care of you today. First let’s have you hop on the scale here and l will get your weight.” His assistant robotically declared. She had kind eyes, aqua green, complimented by short face framing blonde hair. Hair so short she needn’t pull it back. And although she spoke matter of factly and I could tell she had done this routine a thousand times, the softness in her face comforted me, just slightly.
Still, I internally cringed at the thought of the scale. But not for the same reasons that most girls my age dreaded the scale when visiting the doctor. I had this constant fear of someone finding out my secret. What if I had dropped a substantial amount of weight since the last time I had been weighed and that raised red flags, extra testing is ordered and boom to the Valley I go. If one thing was wrong with me, hell there could easily be two things or three. Maybe my genetics were tainted, nothing more than a genetic stain that should be with the others. Despite my reservations I knew acting normal was the key to getting through this appointment without any hiccups.
I nonchalantly stepped on the scale and pretended to be disinterested as the medical assistant jotted my weight down. I silently rejoiced as I peered at the digital number the scale reflected. Still 120, thank God. I thought to myself as I hopped off the scale and followed Tilly down the long hallway and around the corridor where the exam room meant for me sat.
As we entered the exam room Tilly ordered me to take a seat on the bed and make myself comfortable, reassuring me that Dr.Geoffries shouldn’t be long. And just like that she hurried away, clearly, in a rush to finish getting through their full schedule of patients in a timely manner.
The piece of paper that covered the bed was cold against my exposed legs and the rustling of the paper beneath me was discerning, a constant reminder of where I was. I suddenly regretted wearing shorts. I quickly decided it wouldn’t have mattered what I wore, I could forget where I was. Nonetheless I finally exhaled and took in another large breath of air. I felt like I could finally breathe. My mind began to wander, thinking about the hundreds of patients that had sat on this very bed and failed the very tests that were about to be administered to me. That’s what going to the doctor was in Creekside, pass or fail. Luckily, I had just all but began thinking these somber thoughts when I heard the rapping of a fist against the door and Dr. Geoffries scrambled in.
He wore the typical long white lab coat and sported a clean cut and shave, his gray hair combed back, exposing his receding hair line and mature skin. There were still traces of what was obviously a very good-looking man once upon a time.
“Ms.Michealson, how do you do? It has been some time since I have seen you in my office. How has life been? Are you still working full time downtown?” Dr. Geoffries fired the questions at me back-to-back barely giving me time to conjure up the most natural response. I had schooled myself extensively on acting natural at this appointment, but suddenly it felt as though all my practice had been in vain and I choked on my spit as I began to respond. Get it together Sarah. I lectured myself.
My pep talk seemed to work and with renowned confidence I responded, “I’ve been great Dr. Geoffries.” I lied. “I recently got promoted to at work. I think my career may really be taking off finally.”
About work I wasn’t lying; it was going great. Well, most of the time anyway. It certainly was not my dream job. But I had somehow managed to excel in the field. Working my way from mindlessly entering data to an official government official Civil Engineer. The pay is good, I cannot complain about that. But since my job duties consists primarily of overseeing the construction of new bridges, tunnels, and roads, and making sure the correct permit is received, I often work closely with deciphering jurisdiction regarding the Alphas and the Dragons. I had to be sure to keep us separate, that is the part I hate most. It is a rather ironic job for me to have chosen, a catch twenty-two to say the least. Slaving to the people I feared the most.
My mind wandered off to earlier last week, right before this DRAGON test nightmare began. I had scurried off to the bathroom, recognizing the signs of the onset of an all to familiar episode to come. When I made it the short distance to the bathroom, that felt like miles, I immediately went to the sink to try and collect myself, a ritual I had all but perfected by now.
I had splashed water on my face as my heart began to palpitate, a normal occurrence for me lately, but especially when things get too stressful. I had taken a long hard look at the reflection that faced me. Long brown hair down the middle of my back, chestnut eyes, and a porcelain complexion that had begun to redden with the start of summer. But that day I had turned crimson, my face flushed red from the stress of my symptoms.
I had known I did not have long; my coworkers would soon begin to wonder where I had run off to and what was taking me so long if I were just merely using the restroom. And any sign of appearing any less than tip top shape was bad news for any of us. Even just catching a common cold to often in the winter had people raising their eyebrows at you and whispering with one another about the potential ostracization that may be looming.
And yet still, even with the scrutiny that surrounded all of us, I had managed to survive twenty-three years as an Alpha. Twenty-three years of fear for my parents, who just by the grace of God and a little bit of negligence from hospital staff and government officials were able to start this road of confidentiality for me. A lifetime of paranoia, the fear that someday someone may notice something just a bit off about me. At which point it would be too late for me. I would have existed as an Alpha simply to be ostracized and outcasted. Discarded like garbage and sent to the Valley to live out my days with the others considered to be rejects by people I once considered friends, hell, even by my own family.
But if I were to be ostracized everyone would soon forget about me, except for my parents, who would forever grieve the loss of their oldest daughter. But they would let me go, they would have no choice. And I would understand and expect no less from them, that’s how things go here in Creekside. Lately I had found myself questioning if maybe that were the best, end all the worrying and lying once and for all.
“Sarah, are you alright?”
I was snapped back to reality from my deep thoughts of my darkest fears by one of my coworkers, Lindsay Mobley. I had quickly turned to face her, pasting a fake smile on my face.
“I’m great!” I lied. Praying that she did not notice my flushed appearance and the beads of sweat that had begun to collect at the base of my hairline.
Lindsay did not seem completely convinced but still accepted my answer with a brusque response.
“Okay then, you should get back to the floor then.” She replied. Pivoting and opening the bathroom door.
“Everyone has been asking about you, and Curt isn’t too happy with all of your impromptu bathroom breaks lately.” Lindsay added. Her voice dripping with what was unmistakable indignation.
Again, I did my best to put a smile on my face and responded that I would be right out. I spoke a little too bleakly, even for my liking and Lindsay turned to look at me again.
We both stared at one another as I fought the urge to grimace, feeling butterflies in my stomach. Another symptom that I recognized well. These butterflies are not the good kind that you get on your first date. But more like a pit in the bottom of your stomach. A pit that I was incapable of shaking, despite my best efforts. Then would come the sound that resonated in my ears, the same sound every time, yet still indescribable despite the many times I have heard it. The sound was always followed by cognitive cloudiness, that would cause me extreme confusion. I internally prayed that none of these symptoms began. Because what followed was not something that Lindsay could witness. Not if I wanted to keep my secret and remain amongst the Alphas.
She shook her head. “You’re sure you’re okay? You don’t look good. Perhaps you should see your family physician.” And with that she exited. I silently rejoiced and for once appreciated the fact that Lindsay Mobley was stuck up and only cared about herself.
With her departure I had finally exhaled a sigh of relief. I had not even noticed that I had been holding my breath. Despite my best efforts to keep up appearances, my concerns were not just paranoia. The next day Curt had called me to his office to discuss my, extremely noticeable, off behavior lately. He pretended to come from a place of concern, but we both knew what it was about. It was about ensuring that I was in fact still an Alpha; any Dragon characteristics had to be addressed. That is the only way to be positive that the bloodline remained clean.
Curt had politely informed me that I was to go to Meadows Ridge and get checked out. He made sure to let me know that I was not in trouble, and he simply wanted to make sure that I was okay. I pretended to understand; however, I knew that I was no different than anyone else. Curt and I were, by most accounts, close. However, it was no secret to me that if I were to be labeled a Dragon it would be as if he had never met me, and he would lose no sleep and replace me quickly with an eager new minion, that was healthy as an ox.
Dr. Geoffries flashed me a toothy smile. His all to perfect teeth making me feel temporarily uncomfortable in my own skin. I was so deep in thought that I had almost forgotten where I was. Dr. Geoffries voice and the crunching of the paper beneath me as I shifted my bottom to regain a comfortable position snapped me back to reality.
“That’s great!” He responded, as he moved around the exam room, thoroughly washing his hands, and then placing his newly cleaned hands in a pair of latex gloves.
“Now, this is not your first rodeo and of course not mine either. So, let us just dive right in. You will find the testing to be all too familiar, except for a couple of tests that were recently added.” He informed me.
I swallowed the spit that had begun to collect in my mouth.
“Oh, yes? What tests are those?” I questioned. Trying to pretend like I did not care, but it was all I could do to keep my lip from quivering as I questioned him regarding the new tests. He smiled widely again.
“Why, surely, you’ve heard the news?” Dr. Geoffries responded practically glowing with happiness.
“Afraid not.” I responded flatly. Act natural, I reminded myself, letting out a slight laugh.
“The debate is finally over regarding diabetes. It is final, diabetes has been officially added to the DRAGON list. We started implicating protocols Monday morning. The supporting evidence regarding diabetics and the link between diabetes and hypertension and morbid obesity was finally enough to get it through to these jack asses. Excuse my language dear. My mother always lectured me about cursing in front of a lady. And a young lady at that.” Dr. Geoffries apologized.
I put on a fake smile and assured him it was all right. In my head however, the last thing that had bothered me was his impolite vocabulary. What bothered me was that a man, that surely had children, a wife, people in his life that he loves, could be so cold regarding a topic as serious as banishing the people in our community. And even worse justifying the act with the fact that the ing exiled are fat and have high blood pressure, therefore they deserve it. It just doesn’t make sense to me how our society had gotten so conditioned to this idea, that good men, such as Dr.Geoffries, can cringe at the thought of cursing in front of a young lady, yet rejoice in the banishment of those around us.
But that is what sending people to the Valley is all about, cleaning up the bloodline. Getting rid of anyone with tainted genetics so that those reproducing only have the cleanest of all genetics, the Alphas if you will. It seems an absurd notion, ridding the population of anyone with a stain on their genetics. Even still, it had not taken long to convince society that exiling is the best way to deal with the dragons. Personally, I can’t seem to wrap my brain around it.
Might as well be a riddle inside a mystery wrapped in an enigma. A nightmare I cannot escape. I am biased, however, if I did not have my deep dark secret, would I feel the same? Or would I just conform like those before and surely after me.
My thoughts were interrupted by Dr. Geoffries.
“I assure you Ms. Michaelson you will not even notice the extra testing. It is merely a glucose test tacked on to the blood work orders that you get every time. You will not notice a difference, I promise. The technicians in the lab are the only ones affected by this new test.” He informed me. Mistaking my clear disturbance with fear of the test to be distributed shortly.
I nodded. But I wanted to fire back at him how wrong he was. That every person that’s blood glucose was a little high was going to be affected as well as their families. But of course, I didn’t. I wanted to lash out at him for his lack of empathy. But for the sake of fitting in with the alphas I simply nodded, whether I agreed or not. That is what I had been conditioned to do. To lie about who I was and pretend to be someone I was not. Maybe I should just accept I am a Dragon. Stop pretending to be an Alpha and head to the Valley myself, head held high. Rather than waiting for the inevitable to occur. The time when my secret would be revealed, and I would be sent to the Valley against my will. Perhaps I should make the choice while the choice was still mine to make.
I sucked in air and suddenly felt that all to familiar feeling that something was off. Oh no. Not here. I pleaded internally. If I had one of my episodes here I was done for.
"Are you okay Sarah? Your suddenly not looking good." Dr. Geoffries questioned me.
I tried to respond. But I couldn't form the words. Suddenly the ground was coming up from beneath me. Here it comes. And there was nothing I could do about it.
There are no comments for this story
Be the first to respond and start the conversation.